Whaling HQ in Antarctica: whales, steam and solar

Larsen founded Grytviken as a whaling station, the first land-based such factory in the southern hemisphere. The bay, with its rusting industry and neat white buildings, the scattered bones and indolent fur seals, is an integral part of the whaling era when the Americas, Europe and Asia depended on the … Continue reading

Alpine uplands above Maiviken

Maiviken Cove was our next stop.  We headed there only after leaving our anchor behind in the foul ground of Stromness Harbour. Heroic efforts to free it had begun at first light, although the beautiful sunrise was largely unappreciated by the hard-working crew. In the end the chain was pulled … Continue reading

#AntarcticAlphabet: I is for ice

Ice strains, cracks and sometimes breaks, under the burden, slips and slides, does not stay in place, does not stay still. Glaciers, like poems, appear solid, inevitable, perfect at their heart, but are not. Impermanent ice weathers like epigraphs in the graveyard, words written on the changing world. Rivers flow, … Continue reading

Making places in Antarctica: history, science, and territories

I’ve commented before that so many human-made places in the far South are ugly buildings sitting in magnificent landscapes. We called at Esperanza station in Hope Bay, on the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula: it’s a busy research base and a stamp of Argentina’s territorial claims, a scatter of red corrugated … Continue reading

A is for: an #antarcticalphabet

Antarctica lies hidden behind the cold-current fringes of the Southern Ocean, ancient lands shrouded in white and blue. Sleeping Beauty, bramble-fenced, breathing in rhythm with the tick of the clock, awaits the destined prince. Cold, storied emblems of passivity and pride. Amundsen and Shackleton have come and gone though Scott remained, … Continue reading